Restorative Yoga

Yoga is an ancient tradition from India that is over 5,000 years old.  During its evolution, several different styles of yoga have emerged.  Yin yoga, or restorative yoga is quite different from many styles of yoga.  It uses supports, or props, to support the body in poses while maintaining a state of complete relaxation.  Restorative yoga focuses more on the movement of fluids and stretching than vigourous physical activity.

Tools for Restorative Yoga
In order to practice certain yoga positions in an environment of total support, the following tools can greatly help:
–yoga strap
–yoga bolster
–balls
–blankets
–yoga block
–chair
–eye bags
–sand bags
Each tool is used differently, and it is possible to practice restorative yoga without all of the props, however, yoga is not considered restorative if it puts strain on muscles and joints.

Relax and Renew
Judith Hanson Lasater wrote the book Relax and Renew to focus completely on restorative yoga.  She calls restorative yoga “active relaxation” and “restful yoga.”  She notes that rest is different than sleep.  Once can be actively restful.  Restorative yoga involves restful positions that activate the parasympathetic nervous system which stimulates the immune system and promotes health of the endocrine system.  The use of inverted poses rearranges hormones and lowers blood pressure, as well as counter-balances the day-long effects of gravity on the body.

Several simple poses compose a restorative yoga routine.  The Simple Supported Back Bend, Legs Up the Wall, Forward Fold and Downward Facing Supported Hero are all easy beginner restorative yoga poses.

Yoga is Part of a Holistic Approach to Health
All types of yoga can be considered beneficial to holistic health practices.  Restorative yoga concentrates on restful poses, and is more beneficial than some active styles of yoga.  Dr. David Spiegel, author of Living Beyond Limits, remarks that many physical problems can be treated with psychological interventions such as the meditative practices associated with yoga.  yoga is used as supplementary therapy for patients with chronic illnesses including diabetes, cancer, asthma and AIDS.

Yoga is beneficial in all forms; however, restorative yoga has therapeutic benefits beyond other types of yoga, and is a part of the growing health and wellness movement and practice of holistic medicine.

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